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Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Airport Commitment and Strategy." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27012.
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CHAPTER 4 Airport Commitment and Strategy 4.1 Introduction Navigating the Chapter This chapter is divided into Enhancing the experience of travelers with disabilities and older adults begins with an executive main subject areas with commitment and a defined strategy. Airports that verbalize and implement a strategic, holistic, notable practices, bench- and seamless approach to CX management airport-wide observe higher customer satisfaction marks, and assessment tools across all customer demographics, including travelers with disabilities and older adults. provided for each subject. A mini case study that U.S. airports have increasingly embraced leadership of, and responsibility for, CX manage- illustrates a number of ment airport-wide, working in collaboration with their airport community. Research confirms notable practices is included at the end of the chapter. that the airports identified as accessibility leaders in addressing the needs of and assessing the services for people with disabilities and older adults also demonstrate the characteristics of leading-edge airport types (see Figure 16). All four of the leading-edge CX airport types share certain characteristics that contribute to their recognition by the industry and by their customers as CX leaders. Some of these characteristics are provided in the following list: • CX Strategy. A more holistic approach to CX management and customer service by senior leadership, incorporating CX in all aspects of planning, operation, services, amenities, and airport branding. • Stakeholder Collaboration. Collaborate with business partners and stakeholders and estab- lish strategic CX approach and standards for the airport service delivery chain. • Employee Engagement. Value and engage all airport employees. • Performance Management. Assess airport-wide performance using established standards. • Effective Communication. Communicate a consistent CX message; messages are aligned with the airport brand. • Community Relations. The airport is highly regarded in the community and often a source of civic pride. Striving for and attaining these characteristics provides a solid foundation for achieving full accessibility and inclusion at an airport. This chapter covers some of the elements needed to establish an executive commitment and define a strategy for accessibility and inclusion: • Strategic elements that contribute to achieving full accessibility and inclusion (Section 4.2); • Airport-wide human resources management (Section 4.3); • Accessibility and disability awareness training (Section 4.4); • SLAs, contracts, and other methods of oversight to ensure a consistent level of excellent service among all service providers (Section 4.5); • Managing service gaps in the experience (Section 4.6); and • Collaboration with communities of older adults and persons with disabilities (Section 4.7). 31  

32   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults Source: Boudreau et al. 2016. Figure 16.   Four approaches to improving customer experience. 4.2  Strategic Elements Airport leadership’s commitment to moving beyond basic ADA compliance and towards developing total accessibility throughout the airport is critical for developing a culture of accessibility and inclusion. Strategic elements that contribute to achieving full accessibility and inclusion at the airport include When those in a senior leadership • Referencing accessibility goals throughout the airport’s strategic plan, position show commitment to developing • Assigning responsibilities to key airport staff to address accessibility a sound disability inclusion strategy, there goals and KPI targets, tends to be a greater push company-wide • Encouraging collaborative decision-making among key players, for accessibility and inclusion (Business • Incorporating the traveler’s perspective in program design and Disability Forum, 2020). implementation, and • Aligning CX standards for all traveler segments. 4.2.1 Commitment to Airport-Wide Accessibility and Collaborative Decision-Making The following notable practices are guidelines on how airports might demonstrate a com- mitment to airport-wide accessibility and develop a more collaborative decision-making process. Notable Practices Review of Airport Strategic Plan. Review the current Airport Strategic Plan or Airport CX Plan to ensure that it demonstrates the airport’s commitment to airport-wide accessibility throughout the organization. Commitment to Accessibility. Commit to making accessibility an essential component of the airport’s CX brand and service delivery strategy rather than attempting to address each gap

Airport Commitment and Strategy   33   Source: Coll 2019. Figure 17.   ACI’s airport customer experience management. individually. This can be accomplished through a strategic, continuous improvement, service excellence approach to implementing an airport-wide CX/customer service (CS) brand that includes accessibility, service standards, performance management, and a communications program. ACI’s Airport Customer Experience Accreditation model (see Figure 17) is an exam- ple of a model that may be applied to all services provided to travelers throughout the airport journey. Unified Accessibility Action Plan. Develop and implement a unified accessibility action plan for the airport (if there is no current unified airport-wide accessibility plan) in collabora- tion with the airport community and affected traveler segments (i.e., disability and older adult populations). This Guide provides guidelines on developing short-term and longer-term strategic plans to address accessibility airport-wide. Long-Term Inclusive Strategic Plan. Develop a long-term strategic plan for including accessibility in services provided throughout the airport regardless of the service provider. If organizational policy or procedural changes are needed, create a sequential plan to achieve this objective. 4.2.2 Alignment of Reporting Structure and Coordination of CX with Accessibility Strategies and Activities ADA coordinators are critical in creating and maintaining accessibility at airports, includ- ing oversight of lessees and air carriers in regard to ADA compliance. However, little has been written regarding the requirements and duties of this position. The title of the acting

34   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults ADA coordinator at an airport can vary depending on the airport’s organizational struc- ture. Some airports have a role solely designated to handle ADA topics, while others may use the city’s ADA coordinator or assign the role as a secondary duty to another employee (Smith and Haines 2018). The synergies between CX/CS and accessibility are numerous, and the efforts and initiatives of each should be aligned and leveraged in collaboration with the airport community and organizations that advocate for people with disabilities and older adults. The following notable practices are guidelines on how airports may enhance the organiza- tional reporting structure and coordination of CX and accessibility activities. Notable Practices Review of the Organizational Chart. Review the organizational chart to determine the reporting structure and placement of the ADA coordinator within the organization in relation to the CX/CS senior manager position. The long-term goal may be to restructure the organiza- tion; however, in the short term, if the CX manager and ADA staff do not report to the same executive manager, they should be required to work closely together to ensure that their efforts are in concert. Inclusion of ADA Coordinator(s). Include the ADA coordinator in appropriate CX meet- ings and in all meetings addressing accessibility matters. Inclusion of CX Team. Include the CX team in appropriate ADA-related meetings. Merging of CX and ADA under the Same Management. Consider reorganization of departments and divisions so that both CX staff and ADA staff report to the same senior or executive manager. The CX manager and ADA coordinator should report directly to exec- utive management, and they should have adequate support to effectively and proactively manage the airport’s CX/CS accessibility programs in coordination with other senior-level executives. Improvement of Information Flow. Address how information is shared through data and resources within the organization to ensure that decisions are made throughout the airport collaboratively to address ADA and accessibility issues beyond the requirements of the FAA and ADA. 4.2.3 Inclusion of All Travelers in Program Design and Implementation Airport executive management needs to champion and consistently communicate an airport- wide commitment to accessibility and equitable services for travelers with disabilities and older adults. To achieve this goal, management should include representation of all traveler segments in program design and implementation. The following guidelines ensure that all travelers are included in program design and implementation. Notable Practices Advisory Committees. Coordinate ADA, CX/CS, performance, and advisory committees to ensure all members are informed of traveler needs, including needs of those with disabilities and older adults; resolve action items that improve customer experiences; and review the results of airport assessments that gauge airport performance and customer satisfaction. Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. Include representatives of persons with disabili- ties and older adults in program design, implementation, and assessment of effectiveness.

Airport Commitment and Strategy   35   To ensure that this is an ongoing process, a number of airports in the U.S. have established disability advisory boards that meet regularly to provide feedback, as needed, and promote airport services and initiatives to the local community. For guidelines on setting up such advisory committees, refer to ACRP Research Report 210 (Van Horn et al. 2020, Chapter 10.6, pp. 141–143). Accessibility Initiatives. Launch executive management–sponsored, airport-wide accessi- bility initiatives, complete with accessibility service standards aligned with the airport’s CX/CS brand and service delivery strategy. Performance Management Benchmarks and Assessment Tools. Establish performance management benchmarks and implement appropriate assessment tools to determine whether airport initiatives have been effective at improving accessibility levels throughout the airport. Communications Programs. Design and implement communications programs to promote accessibility initiatives and inclusion throughout the organization and reinforce individual and department or division achievements to improve accessibility. Engagement of Executives. Engage senior executives in accessibility awareness. Information Sharing. Promote information sharing by all airport stakeholders. 4.2.4 Alignment of Airport-Wide CX Standards/Benchmarks for All Traveler Segments CX service standards and benchmarks, once developed and implemented, are foundational for performance assessment and action planning, especially given the airport’s complex service delivery chain. Standards must be specific, measurable, and achievable, with specific KPIs to determine progress in meeting or achieving established standards. The following notable practices are guidelines for developing standards. Determine Existing Standards. Determine existing standards and compare where the Notable Practices airport is in relation to the “ideal” airport CX. If there are no standards, develop accessi­ bility standards for each service or program in collaboration with other stakeholders, where applicable. Implement Airport-Wide Accessibility Standards. Adopt and implement airport-wide accessibility standards that exceed ADA requirements and are aligned with the airport’s CX brand and standards for all services provided to the airport’s customers. Implement KPIs. Implement KPIs that measure compliance with CX and accessibility standards and develop collaborative action plans to correct deficiencies and enhance services that are in concert with the airport’s brand and established standards. 4.2.5 Integration of CX/CS Departments, Divisions, and Committees with ADA Advisory Committees The following guidelines are useful for ensuring consistent service delivery strategies and information sharing, effective use of resources, high customer satisfaction, and improved participant satisfaction.

36   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults Notable Practices Policies Requiring Participation by All Stakeholders. Establish policies that require par- ticipation of all airport business and service partners in airport-wide CX/CS and ADA com- mittees, councils, and advisory groups. Compliance Language in Agreements and Contracts. Insert language into appropriate agreements, contracts, leases, permits, RFPs, etc., and the airport’s rules and regulations that prescribe compliance with all service standards and involvement in such committees, councils, and advisory groups, as required. Performance Assessment of Service Providers. Collaborate with airlines and others to require service providers, such as airline third-party assistive services, to provide their perfor- mance metrics, customer comments, and assessment of their services to the airport on a quar- terly basis. This can either be contractually stipulated, where appropriate, or collaboratively established as an airport policy via the airport’s service standards and CX performance manage- ment program. 4.2.6 Collect Demographics and Data on Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults Airports frequently have access to community, state, or federal statistics on the population living within their catchment or service area. However, most of the current survey organizations and airports conducting surveys do not capture information on travelers with disabilities in terms of their disabilities or needs. The following notable practices can better inform the airport’s traveler segmentation and strategic plan. Notable Practices 4.2.6.1  Demographic Surveys Work with industry or individual market research firms to include services provided to travelers with disabilities and older adults in their survey demographics and survey questions. 4.2.6.2 Inclusion of Services for Travelers with Disabilities in Market Research Efforts Include services provided to travelers with disabilities and older adults in airport proprietary market research efforts, including surveys and focus groups. Assessment Tools for Strategic Elements Comment/feedback tracking—customer feedback website, comment cards, focus groups, and interviews. Other tools, such as • Feedback from the disability and older adult communities and industry surveys (ASQ, Skytrax, J.D. Power ratings); • Meetings with representative organizations of the various traveler segments to see if standards are appropriately set and are being met; and • Feedback and observations from business partners, stakeholders, and airport employees to measure collaboration received by the airport. Customer satisfaction surveys—to determine the level of awareness of airport accessibility.

Airport Commitment and Strategy   37   Assessment Tools for Strategic Elements Employee engagement survey—to determine awareness throughout the airport organization of accessibility standards, level of knowledge about all traveler segments needs, and employee’s role in achieving goals to reach the desired state. Disability:IN’s DEI. Accessibility service excellence standards—to review individual and department or division performance appraisals or goal achievements to determine improvements in customer satisfaction. 4.3  Airport-Wide Human Resources Management Research findings indicate a clear linkage between employee satisfaction at work and customer satisfaction. If employees are not satisfied with their responsibilities, work culture, or working environment, their dissatisfaction is mirrored in their interactions with customers, which results in lower customer satisfaction ratings. Airports that fully embrace the role of employees in providing excellent customer experiences and hire employees with disabilities and older adults are likely to achieve improvements in the customer satisfaction ratings from travelers with disabilities and older adults. 4.3.1  Encourage English Proficiency for Front-Facing Staff As documented in ACRP Research Report 231 and confirmed again in this study, travelers with disabilities have expressed a need for staff members interacting with them to communicate clearly in English (Ryan et al. 2021). Hiring airport staff with English proficiency can greatly benefit this group of travelers. Airports Notable Practices can require English proficiency for their own front-facing staff and those of their contractors. English proficiency for front-facing staff can be included in the airport’s service standards for all airport employees. Classes in English as a second language can also be offered to front- facing airport employees. Training on how to communicate appropriately and effectively with individuals with various disabilities is also essential, as is proficiency in using any assistive communication technology provided by the airport or other stakeholders, such as tablets with video remote interpreting (VRI) software. 4.3.2 Reward All Staff/Volunteers for Providing Outstanding Assistance to Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults Most U.S. airports have employee reward and recognition programs; however, few of them recognize those employees who go out of their way to assist travelers with disabilities or older adults. Including recognition for airport employees, volunteers, airline and busi- ness partners, and third-party employees who provide outstanding assistance to travelers with disabilities and older adults as a part of the airport’s CX/CS reward and recogni- tion program has been shown to translate into an enhanced experience for these groups of travelers. The following notable practices are guidelines for rewarding and recognizing staff and volunteers for providing outstanding assistance to travelers with disabilities and older adults.

38   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults Notable Practices Create an Additional Category. If an airport already has a reward and recognition program in place, another category may be included for providing outstanding assistance to travelers with disabilities and older adults. Create a Reward and Recognition Program. If an airport does not have a reward and recognition program, it can consider creating a program and including outstanding assistance to travelers with disabilities and older adults. 4.3.3 Ensure that CX Airport Staff and Volunteers Are Easily Identifiable CX airport staff and volunteers who are wearing easily identifiable uniforms or other paraphernalia are particularly helpful for travelers with disabilities and older adults since these groups are more likely to seek out assistance. The following guidelines help ensure travelers with disabilities and older adults can easily recognize airport staff and volunteers who are available to assist. Notable Practices Review CX Personnel Uniforms. Review uniforms of airport CX employees and volunteers to ensure they are easily identifiable by airport travelers. CX Staff Standards. Provide airport CX staff and volunteer standards that include an easily identifiable uniform, button, or vest for travelers to recognize who is available to assist. Communicate Information About CX Staff Uniforms and Standards. Include the uniform, button, or vest on the airport website and app, in public relations releases, and at stake- holder meetings to elevate awareness of how to identify airport staff and volunteers. 4.3.4 Commit to Hiring Employees with Disabilities at the Airport Hiring employees with disabilities diversifies the organization’s culture, improves organiza- tional performance (due to lower turnover and absenteeism rates), provides a unique perspective, and often brings innovative thinking.

Airport Commitment and Strategy 39   The following guidelines cover hiring employees with disabilities. Detailed Job Descriptions. Create detailed job descriptions that explain what abilities are Notable Practices needed to perform the required tasks so that potential candidates can decide which are appro- priate for them. Use of Resources. Make use of readily available resources such as Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers, Centers for Independent Living, and local branches of national disability organizations to identify target groups and help with outreach. Assessment Tools for Airport-Wide Human Resources Management Comment/feedback tracking—customer feedback website, comment cards, focus groups, surveys, and/or interviews to determine the number of complaints (and compliments) related to language proficiency and other customer service elements. Internal audits—to review the number of current airport employees with disabilities versus the desired number of employees with disabilities. Mystery shopping—to measure the level of compliance with airport standards, effectiveness of airport CX and disability training, and customer satisfaction with staff interactions. Electronic/static rating—located at strategic points where human services are provided. Customer satisfaction surveys—to gather customer feedback on interactions with airport personnel. Employee engagement surveys—to measure employee satisfaction. Reward/recognition programs—to track the number of employees rewarded/recognized for delivering excellent service before and after implementing notable practices.

40   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults 4.4  Accessibility/Disability Awareness Training Travelers don’t always know who is responsible for a given service, and poor customer service from any employee at an airport may reflect badly on the airport itself. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the airport, airline, and the airport’s business partners to ensure that all staff are properly trained on responding appropriately to the needs of the airport’s traveler segments and attuned to the nuances of travelers with various types of disabilities and older adults. Air carriers, both domestic and international, serving the U.S. market have specific disability training requirements under the Air Carrier Access Act. Under ADA, those carriers providing ground transportation have an explicit requirement to provide disability training to frontline employees. However, U.S. airports have only a vague requirement under Section 504 and ADA that their programs and services be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Airports are increasingly focusing on enhancing CX airport-wide and recognize the need to provide training to airport staff on techniques and best practices to better serve the traveling public; however, airports do not always require or provide disability-specific training to their own staff or volunteers. Both initial and ongoing training is needed for all airport staff so that each individual interfacing with travelers is aware of the various nuances of travelers with dis- abilities and older adults. This includes training content on how to address unique needs of these traveler segments and how to improve customer experiences for all passengers traveling through the airport. It also includes training for senior-level airport staff to improve their awareness of the needs of travelers with disabilities and older adults. The following notable practices are for airports regarding accessibility and disability aware- ness training. Notable Practices Standardized Airport-Wide CX/CS Training Including Accessibility Awareness. Provide standardized airport-wide CX/CS training aligned with the airport’s CX brand and service stan- dards to all front-facing airport staff, volunteers, airlines, and third-party assistive service DISABILITY AWARENESS TRAINING The Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) provides disability awareness training. In addition to the required 30-minute Disability Awareness training for new hires, the CCM also requires all frontline staff to participate in a 2-hour long training course twice a year. To conduct the training, CCM brings in outside disability organizations to teach staff about interacting with their members such as The Arc, for visitors with cognitive disabilities, and Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, a local rehabilitation hospital, for visitors with physical disabilities.

Airport Commitment and Strategy   41   providers. This should include accessibility awareness with specific training on recognizing the needs of and interacting with/assisting travelers with disabilities and older adults. Accessibility Awareness Training for Onboarding. Provide CX/CS training that includes accessibility awareness upon onboarding for employees and volunteers. Refresher Accessibility Awareness Training. Provide refresher accessibility awareness training as part of the Security Identification Display Area badging process. Community Outreach. Reach out to the local community to determine if any organizations or universities are already providing accessibility training, and if so, consider working with them to offer the training to airport employees/volunteers and/or business partners. Inclusion of Travelers with Disabilities in Trainings. Include videos of travelers with specific types of disabilities within in-house training programs so that their perspectives are included when the trainers themselves do not have disabilities. Assessment Tools for Accessibility/Disability Awareness Training o Mystery shopping—to measure the level of compliance with airport standards, effectiveness of airport CX and disability training, performance of staff, and customer satisfaction with staff interactions. o Customer satisfaction surveys—to measure the customers’ satisfaction with the service level. o Employee engagement surveys—to evaluate the effectiveness of training programs. 4.5 SLAs/Contracts and Other Methods of Oversight Airports and airlines use SLAs with subcontractors who provide specific services to and for the airport, such as janitorial service and wheelchair assistance. SLAs in contracts can be used as a tool to ensure a consistent level of excellent service for people with disabilities and older adults. Specifying expected service standards/benchmarks and performance levels in the SLA/contract provides a very effective assessment tool for the level of service that the service provider and the airport jointly agree to consistently strive for. In addition to established service standards, responsibility for management and oversight of these standards must be assigned to ensure accountability. For disability-related services, the ADA/504 Coordinator typically oversees such contracts and must ensure that clauses are included with regard to regulatory compliance so that accessibility requirements are met. Assessment Tools to Measure Adherence to SLAs and Other Methods of Oversight o Customer satisfaction surveys—such as website exit surveys and intercept surveys specific to service providers that serve the needs of travelers with disabilities and older adults. o Internal audits/inspections—to review wait times at various journey points. o Mystery shopping—to measure standard wait times. o Reward/recognition programs—to track the number of employees rewarded/recognized for delivering excellent service. o Accessibility service excellence standards—to review individual and/or department/division performance appraisals and/or goal achievements to determine improvements in customer satisfaction.

42   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults 4.6  Managing Service Gaps Airlines are mandated by ACAA 14 CFR Part 382 regulations to provide assistance to travelers upon request at the terminal entrance. However, this means that travelers are faced with gaps in service when arriving at alternative arrival points, such as rental car facilities, parking garages, and light rail stops. Airports have a responsibility to ensure customers are accommodated under ADA. Some airports have separate contracts to provide assistance to travelers in these gap areas. If an airport has a separate contract to cover service gaps, such as travelers arriving at a rental car facility, then travelers should be directed via the airport website and airport signage to call the service provider directly [e.g., Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) or Seattle- Tacoma International Airport (SEA)]. For planning purposes, however, airports need to know which types of disabilities are represented among their travelers and how many people with disabilities are traveling through the airport overall (i.e., those assisted by airlines) as well as by airport contractors. Airports, airlines, and other service providers should work together to identify where these gaps exist, determine who is responsible for addressing them, and agree on the best way to address them. The following notable practices address gaps in service for people with disabilities and older adults. Collaborative Meetings with Business Partners. Hold collaborative meetings among airport Notable Practices personnel, airlines, and third-party service providers to identify service gaps and strategize how to address barriers to assistance. ADA Committees. Create internal and external ADA committees. Information Sharing Standards. Create an information sharing standard that requests air- lines to provide information on the types of travelers requiring assistance to help the airport plan for these travelers. Assessment Tools to Measure Service Gaps o Customer satisfaction surveys—such as website exit surveys specific to service providers that serve the needs of travelers with disabilities and older adults. o Mystery shopping—to identify potential gaps in service. o Usage data—to measure the number of travelers/disability type assisted by airport and airline contractors. 4.7 Collaboration with Communities of Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities Collaboration with communities of older adults and persons with disabilities is fundamental to the creation of an executive strategy for accessibility. The FAA requires airports and airlines to work with service animal organizations when designing and placing service animal relief areas. Airports are also required to conduct self-evaluations with assistance from disability organizations. The FAA provides a list of appropriate organizations in the advisory circular AC 150/5360-14A— Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities (FAA 2017). Individuals with disabilities who specialize in ADA issues in state or local government may also be good candidates. 4.7.1  Create Advisory Committees While there are regulatory requirements for working with these communities, some airports are taking an extra step to include people with disabilities and older adults in planning and

Airport Commitment and Strategy   43   design initiatives on a more consistent basis by creating internal and external accessibility advisory committees. By establishing an advisory committee focused solely on accessibility, each department involved considers the needs of its travelers with disabilities and older adults and governs itself accordingly to meet their needs as much as possible. The following notable practices describe different types of advisory committees that can be established. Internal ADA Committees. Internal ADA committees are usually organized and led by the Notable Practices ADA/504 Coordinator. The committee typically meets on a monthly basis, or more often if required, to discuss any issues or projects that affect accessible facilities or services at the airport. Since the responsibility for accommodating customers with disabilities is shared across numerous stakeholders, all interested parties are invited, including airport departments, airlines, airline service companies, ground transportation providers, concessionaires, and security. External ADA Committees. External ADA committees allow airports to secure regular input from community members with disabilities. Airport staff from various departments and other stakeholders, including airlines, service companies, and TSA, also attend to give pre- sentations and get input on their initiatives. Some airports—such as Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Miami International Airport (MIA), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)—hold meetings monthly while others, such as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), meet quarterly. Community members with disabilities from local chapters of national organizations may participate; possible organizations include the American Council of the Blind, Hearing Loss Association of America, National Federation of the Blind, National Association of the Deaf, MS Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The Arc, or a local Center for Independent Living. Disability Advisory Committees. Airports that currently have disability advisory com­ mittees have been able to attract at least one airport staff member to be fully active on the board. Having buy-in from upper management increases the group’s credibility and is key to the continuation of such committees and follow-through on the recommendations they make. Having a working group or advisory board gives airport planners, architects, and designers a group to consult with on questions of regulatory compliance and inclusive design. At MSP, architects regularly meet with the committee to discuss specific projects and to get feedback from members. Having a community of people who are available at any given time gives airport staff the ability to find answers reliably and quickly. The committee can also provide firsthand experience on inefficiencies at the airport, as well as give valuable insight into how people with different disabilities interact with the airport. This type of committee empowers airport personnel to use these people as a resource. The airport will hear not only local viewpoints but also national views. In some cases, international viewpoints are addressed. Advisory committee members may also be able to contribute to disability awareness trainings at the airport, help with community outreach, or participate in emergency exercises (e.g., MSP and LAX). According to ACRP Synthesis 90: Incorporating ADA and Functional Needs in Emer- gency Exercises, “a disability advisory committee can benefit an airport’s emergency exercises, planning and general operations and facility design” (Smith and Haines 2018). 4.7.2  Other Committees and Advisory Groups The importance of collaboration and cooperation across all stakeholders cannot be over­ emphasized; it is critical to bridging the service gaps and creating a successful airport-wide

44   Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults accessibility strategy. While external and internal advisory groups focus on accessibility on a broader scale, advocates strongly suggest that airports develop more focused advisory groups to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered in more critical plans, specifically for emergency preparedness and planning. Notable Practices Emergency Preparedness and Planning. Community advocacy and nonprofit organizations representing people with disabilities should be invited to participate in emergency preparedness and planning groups. Airport employees with disabilities, emergency management staff, and managers and administrators should participate as well. Coordinators of services for people with disabilities and emergency managers from the state, county, and/or city also can be invited to participate. Along with all of these key players, the advisory group plays a vital role in develop- ing an effective emergency communications strategy, conducting the airport needs assessment, evaluating solutions, assisting with exercises, and integrating considerations for people with disabilities into emergency preparedness programs (IEM Inc. 2019). Gaining Insight from the Disability Community. On a less formal basis, a number of air- ports engage the community to solicit feedback and gain insight from the people that might benefit most from a given accessible program or service. Following the Port of Seattle’s com- mitment to becoming the “most accessible airport” in the country, SEA conducted an airport accessibility research project to assess the current state of the airport’s accessibility, identify areas of improvement, and determine recommendations for addressing these areas over time- frames of two, five, and ten years. As part of the assessment, travelers with disabilities from the Seattle-Tacoma area were invited to participate in community outreach meetings where they shared their challenges when traveling through SEA and provided feedback on where the airport could make improvements. Assessment Tools to Assess Collaboration with Communities of Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities Accessibility service excellence standards. Comment/feedback tracking—feedback from the disability community on effectiveness of programs. Internal audits—conduct internal audits of programs prior to and after engaging the community to measure the impact.

Airport Commitment and Strategy   45   4.8  Mini Case Study

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The travel experience can vary greatly for people embarking on the same journey. In particular, travelers with disabilities and older adults usually experience more challenges journeying through the airport.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 239: Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults provides the industry with resources and tools to enhance existing programs and services and develop new ones. The report also provides effective assessment tools to evaluate, monitor, and improve different aspects of the customer experience for these two target groups.

An associated online tool, ACRP WebResource 14: Tools to Assess Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults, supplements the report. A PDF file with alt text descriptions for the graphics is available upon request from Customer_Service@nap.edu.

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